The Ministry of Health (MPW) said it is now faced with anew challenge in responding to the threat of Liberia’s increasing non-communicable disease and injury (NCDI) burden.
According to a report released by the Ministry, Non-communicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs) comprised a large share of Liberia’s burden of disease accounting for an estimated 37.9% of the national burden from all causes and 43.4% of all deaths.
Non-communicable disease and injury ranges from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, diabetes (type 1 and 2), cervical cancer, breast cancer, major depressive disorder, substance abuse disorders, chronic kidney disease, and motor vehicle road injuries among others.
Liberia Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina S. Jallah in a statement of commitment to addressing the issue of NCDI, said in spite of gains made in addressing maternal health and communicable diseases, the rapid rise in NCDIs in Liberia is imposing great strain on the country health system.
“As Liberia’s population of 4.2 million recovers from the consequences of a series of civil wars (1989-2003) and the devastating Ebola viral disease outbreak (2014-2015) that took away several thousand lives (including health care workers), we are now presented with new challenges in responding to the threat of Liberia’s increasing non-communicable disease and injury (NCDI) burden”, Minister Jallah noted.
She said if Liberia will adequately tackle the new health challenge, the percentage of the Country’s national health expenditure allocated to NCDs must be increased.
“From our Commission’s findings, we see that increasing the percentage of our national health expenditure allocated to NCDs from the current 12% to 20% will reduce yearly premature deaths by 1,300 by the year 2030. As the Ministry of Health, we recognize the opportunity for action described in this report and are committed to do our part,” she said in the statement.
Minister Jallah further noted that the Ministry is taking measures to meet the global goals of mitigating NCDIs.
“The Liberian Ministry of Health (MOH) is taking significant steps to meet global NCDI goals. Under a newly established NCD Division, strategic instruments to guide and regulate Liberia’s national response to the disease burden are being developed”, she added.
Minister Jallah congratulated Dr. Fred Amegashie (MoH) and Dr. Jason Beste (PIH) and the Liberia Noncommunicable Disease and Injury (NCDI) Poverty Commission and all partners for working throughout 2017 to gather information to show the country’s NCD burden and intervention profile.
She continued: “This Liberia Noncommunicable Disease and Injury (NCDI) Poverty Commission report doubles as a critical baseline assessment and advocacy tool for the type of services requiring investment. I implore all local and international partners to thoroughly peruse the document with the purpose of contributing to the alleviation of the NCDI burden on our population”.
The report said despite NCDIs being one of the focus areas of Liberia’s Essential Package for Health Services, basic services are limited, especially in rural and public-sector facilities.
Additionally, the report said capacity and readiness for advanced NCDI care is extremely limited and concentrated only in urban referral centers. It noted that management of NCDIs is often costly to the economy and imposes a heavy burden to already struggling economies, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
“To date, resources for NCDIs remain constrained, with only 12%of total health resources going towards NCDIs, of which 40%is provided by households through out-of-pocket expenses; this undoubtedly contributes to catastrophic expenditures and further impoverishment,” the report added.
The report however recommended that owing to the burden NCDIs inflict on populations across all age groups, especially in rural communities, and the cost to the economy particularly in struggling economies in low income countries, an integrated multi-sectorial prioritization of NCDI prevention and management in Liberia is needed.
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